It is the time of year where anxiety can be quite a problem as worries and fears pile up during the holidays. The only anxiety I experience is through my depression and a brief bout of morning anxiety due to pain. What I did for that was slow breathing exercises.
Anxiety symptoms (Source: Mayo Clinic)
- Feeling nervous, restless or tense
- Having a sense of impending danger, panic or doom
- Having an increased heart rate
- Breathing rapidly (hyperventilation)
- Feeling weak or tired
- Trouble concentrating or thinking about anything other than the present worry
- Having trouble sleeping
- Experiencing gastrointestinal (GI) problems
- Having difficulty controlling worry
- Having the urge to avoid things that trigger anxiety
And now onto our guest blogger: Charlotte Underwood is a 23-year-old from Norfolk, UK. She is a mental health advocate and blogger with a passion to reduce the stigma against mental health.
Guest Post: Battling Anxiety
Anxiety. Where does the line cross between who I am and what I have learned? What part of me is the ‘true’ version of me, and what is just my mental illness? Living with any mental illness can leave you with a million questions.
You can start to doubt who you are, what you want and how you should live your life.
Yet, there is something comforting in knowing that a lot of that worry you have inside, is not unnatural or something to be ashamed of. After all, for the condition to exist, a good handful of people need to have experienced the symptoms.
I have always been a bit of a ‘worrier’, I always got told off and judged because I was refusing to do things, or I would ramble on about a topic – just because I saw it differently to those around me, and I was frustrated that no one else could see my point of view.
I didn’t know that I had anxiety until I was a teenager. I think my dad just threw this psychology book in front of me and asked me if it made sense to me. It was like reading my own biography. From there, I did plenty of research and tried to come to terms with what ‘anxiety’ is.
Today, it doesn’t even phase people, or even doctors, when I express my concerns. It is just accepted that I have anxiety. While it is nice to have an answer for part of my issues, it does come with a double-edged sword. Sometimes people assume anxiety is the reason for literally anything that happens to me.
Needless to say, having anxiety can be an incredibly stressful experience. It can affect every moment of your day, from the moment you wake up, till the moment you eventually fall asleep; after 4 hours of battling those intrusive thoughts.
Anxiety takes place in your relationships, the jobs you work, the education and dreams you seek. There is no crevice or corner that anxiety can’t try to worm its way into.
And the only thing that is between anxiety and your health, is you.
It took me a long time to accept responsibility for my anxiety, and I don’t see this as a bad thing. More of the idea that it is my responsibility to look after my mental health, to take time to do self-care and to push myself when I feel able too. It’s not a race, but ultimately, I am the only person who can really allow myself to fight this anxiety.
I’ve tried everything in the book, from healthy eating to exercise, arts and crafts and adventures. Literally every ‘at home’ suggestion that the doctor suggests, I have done that. Nothing has fully helped me, though it has given me moments of quiet and peace.
I’ve tried many medications, and more medical style treatments but again, the long-term management of my anxiety has not been found.
The thing is, while I wish I could put those thoughts to bed forever, I am not too ashamed that my fight is still ongoing. Because mental health recovery is not a race, I will get to the place I want to be, just in my own way. I have found though, while I still battle with anxiety, that the more I do challenge it and try everything I have to manage it, I do get stronger and wiser. If anything, I have become more understanding of who I am and that is an incredibly powerful thing.
All I want to say, is that managing your anxiety is something that is down to you, it is yours. Don’t be afraid to try new things or to do more of the things that seem to work. Don’t be upset if other people are ‘recovering’ quicker than you because you are so different and that is not a bad thing. Mental illness may not have a cure yet but it certainly can be managed, we are complex creatures and so it can take some time to find out what is right for us, so as long as you focus on being true to yourself and give yourself self-respect, things might just feel a tiny bit easier.